|Saturday, July 7, 2001||
WHAT is barista? The word barista is today a part of our vocabulary. It is an Italian word in the process of being borrowed by English. Barista is bartender in Italian and when connected with a coffee-bar, the usage becomes clear. Just as Indian culture and language have given words like tandoori, biryani, curry, raita and kachumbar to English, most coffee-related words have come from Italian.
Coffee itself came
from the Italian caffe. The espresso coffee enjoyed so much on
a cold winter’s day gets the term espresso from Italian,
meaning rapid, which comes from the Latin espressere, press
out. Invented in Italy at the turn of the century, a pump-driven
machine forces hot water through finely ground coffee, producing the
rich, sweet and thick shot we know as espresso coffee. When steamed
milk (latte in Italian) is added, the coffee becomes a latte.
To create mocha coffee, a bit of chocolate syrup is added. For a
cappuccino, the frothy, foaming milk from the top of the steaming
pitcher caps the coffee. The word cappuccino comes from the hooded
Italian order of Catholic Capuchin monks whose hooded robes resembled
the coffee’s cap of foam in shape and colour.
The Renaissance, which originated in Italy in the fourteenth century, transformed painting, architecture, literature and all other arts. Through this transformation, English took many words from Italian. To Italian, English owes carnival, casino, regatta; parasol, umbrella; pants, jeans, wigs; battalion, cannon, cavalry, pastel, fresco, arcade and sonnet, scenario, vendetta. This word-borrowing is not a one-way road. Since the 1960’s, after English replaced French as the first foreign language in Italian schools, many English words entered the Italian vocabulary; lady, baby, shop, target, to name a few. Some words were adapted to fit the language, like handicapped became handicappati. The influx of so many English words has given birth to a highly anglicised Italian termed Itangliano.
Many words describing war and warfare have come from Italian. Some have been borrowed and adapted by Hindi as well. Colonel or karnel (in Hindi) is one such word. Colonel originally is a Latin word columna, meaning pillar. Italian borrowed it as colonna, column of soldiers. With time, it became colonello, leader of a column of soldiers. From here, it reached the French lexicon where it became coronel and colonel. Which explains the ‘r’ silent in our pronunciation of the word colonel and the articulation of ‘r’ in the Hindi version karnel.